Friday, December 2, 2011

#23 Romantic suspense: Incandescent

TITLE: Incandescent
GENRE: Romantic suspense

After crash landing a drug dealer’s plane, undercover agent Jack Ripley stumbles into the world of Seely Davis, reclusive horse-whisperer. Jack seems to always be one step behind the dirty DEA agent that burned him and they’ll have to dodge bullets, avalanches and bombs as they fall in love - if only Seely’s past fears don’t cripple their future.

The flash of movement in the pasture stopped Seely cold. Most mornings, she could stand here behind her insulated glass walls and relish the solitude, the grandeur and the absolute peacefulness of her world.
Not today. On this bright, cold morning, she would have to stomp through twelve inches of fresh snow to find out why one of the horses was running loose through the pasture instead of cozied up in the barn.
She exchanged the steaming mug of cocoa for a parka and barn boots. The front door slammed behind her, the sound rousing her sleeping dog from his sheltered bed on the front porch. “C’mon, Mac.” He bounded off the porch in the lead, stopping halfway to the barn to test the air. A single woof confirmed Seely’s worst suspicion. Her peace had been disrupted.

Snow lay in heavy drifts against the barn, making it hard to roll the barn door back enough to slip through. Even though she closed it firmly behind her, a cold wind blasted through the barn. The stall door leading from Frosty’s stall to the pasture stood wide open.

Seely ducked beneath the webbing that sufficed for an inner stall door, greeting her mare with an affectionate pat. The name Frosty particularly suited the mare at the moment, with bits of snow and ice clinging to the long winter hairs on her belly and legs.

All that was not nearly as troublesome as the great clods of snow packed into her shod hooves.


  1. Love the last line - great sense of uneasiness here, which makes me want to continue!

    I'm on the edge of my seat, worried about Seely, her horses, and the disruption to the protective peace she's formed around herself.

  2. I like the opening hook as well as the closing hook. My only problem was worrying about the dog outside in such cold weather!

  3. I remember this logline, and I liked it the first time I saw it! I can picture this scene perfectly. The only thing I was a bit confused about was what all the snow & ice on Frosty signified. Obviously, she's been out in the pasture, but I wasn't sure if the MC is concerned that the mare let herself out, or that someone took her. Of course, an opening scene should elicit questions, and from your last line, I can only assume the reader is about to find out the answer ;). Good luck with this! I would definitely read on!

  4. I like your log line a lot. The premise sounds very interesting. However, since your first 250 words are all about Seely, I would have liked to hear more about her in the log line. That being said, Jack sounds great and I think I would really enjoy reading about their relationship.

    I think your opening sentence is great. It immediately starts the action. You do a really nice job of building up to the suspense at the end. There were a couple of spots where the wording pulled me out of the story - "she would have to," "Her peace had been disrupted." I liked both these sentences, but the tense choice seemed a little awkward. Overall, though, I enjoy what you have here and definitely want to know what happens next.

    Good luck with the auction!

  5. I'm sorry to say I have problems with this on a few levels. You do write evocatively and I get a nice sense of the cold, quiet world Seely inhabits. But the third-last paragraph repeats the words 'barn' three times and the word 'stall' twice in quick succession. If you've told us Seely is entering the barn, you don't then need to say it's the barn door she's opening, we'll figure that out. Same with the stall door.

    Secondly, I had to reread the piece to understand what was happening with the horse. It was loose in the pasture, but then she walks into the stall and there it is. I'm guessing Frosty walked into the stall while Seely was coming from the house, but I had to reread it to come to that conclusion.

    Thirdly, I'm not convinced this is the best place to start this story. You mention a plane crash, bullets, avalanches and bombs in your logline, so I'm expecting an action-packed first scene, and instead there's a horse out of its stall. If this was lit fiction or straight romance it would be a great starting scene, but your first page is the most valuable real estate in your novel and if it's going to be a suspense novel, I can't help but think you should start with the plane crash from Jack's POV, then switch to this scene in Seely's. That's just my opinion of course, and I've only read one page of the ms, but that's what I thought.

    As I said, you can write well and create a good mood, I just think for the type of story it is you should consider starting elsewhere.

    Good luck for the auction.

  6. I like a lot of this--the sense of place, the hot cocoa detail--but it feels a bit flat to me. So in the interests of grabbing me immediately (and this is just my opinion) I wonder if you could start in the barn with her discovering Frosty's been let out? I'm a horse person so I know all she has to do is grab her hoof pick and pop the ice balls from Frosty's hooves. So that's not going to concern me as much as how she got out in the first place. I really like the sound of the story and wish you good luck with it.

  7. I like horses, so you have me motivated right away. Very authentic-feeling description of the barn and the animals. I like the cocoa, the parker, the snow, the barn door. Your MC feels like a real person. I can feel and smell and truly experience this scene. I actually prefer the story in the excerpt to the one depicted in the logline, which is a bit Tom Clancy meets the horse-whisperer. I want to spend more time with the horses and less time dodging avalanches and bombs.

  8. It's a little disorienting that the logline is in Jack's POV, and the novel opens with Seely's POV.

    The opening feels a little too aware of the reader. She "would have to stomp" sounds like it's preparing us for what's to come, because she seems surprised when the dog confirms her suspicion that her peace has been interrupted. That makes it feel like "would have to stomp" is an omnicient prediction, not something linear that she's discovering and preparing herself for.

    "Exchanging the mug" feels the same way. It sounds like there's another person she's exchanging them with, or like the exchange is so automated it doesn't need to be described. The sound roses the sleeping dog, but I'd rather see the sound rouse the dog, with a tinkle of collar tags and a couple subtle descriptors of him snuck in when he lifts his nose to the air.

    I can picture the snow in the next line, and that's where I start to warm to the story. I just don't get enough of a feel of the characters in the first three paragraphs to be drawn in with them. It feels as if they're moving in front of the setting instead of inside it. Once you get to the snow, it clicks and feels like it all integrates.